Arabic Language Blog

Learn How to Say Hello and to Introduce Yourself Posted by on Sep 11, 2013 in Arabic Language, Grammar

Marhaba! If you happen to visit any country in the Middle East or anywhere in the world for that matter, you always meet new people. It could be at work (عمل), school (مدرسة) or just at a random social gathering (لقاء اجتماعي). You might land a new job in the Middle East or go on a study abroad program for a semester or simply decide to visit one of the many beautiful destinations. You could be going into a store for some shopping or just browsing around for restaurants, some random individual might ask you: ‘where are you from?’ I am dedicating this post to teach you two obvious things that come to mind when meeting new people. First, the basic common greeting of ‘Hello’; and the second refers to introducing yourself by ‘my name is…’ After this post, I am confident you will be able to say ‘hello… and my name is…’ I am sure that we have all had our fair share of such encounters. Some might not go beyond the hello part, while others might evolve beyond this basic point of conversation. Well these might be easy to many folks that follow the blog; I feel it is important to spend some time on these basic fundamentals, especially for folks that just began learning Arabic.

Let’s Say Hello!

Let’s begin with formal and informal ways of saying hello. In a previous post, I discussed the three most common Arabic expressions and here I will discuss one of them and an additional one.  The most formal way of greeting someone in Arabic is ‘assalaamu ‘alaykoom’ (السلام عليكم). You can pronounce it this way: AA-SA-LAA-MU AA-LAY-KOOM. In an Arabic conversation it seems to many as the exact substitute of Hello. As many of you know already, the actual literal translation is ‘May peace be upon you.’ It is appropriate for greeting someone at a formal event or when you meet someone for the first time in an Arab country. What happens if someone says it first? How do you reply? You can reply by saying ‘wa ‘alaykoom ‘as-salaam,’(وعليكم السلام) which literally means ‘and upon you peace.’ You can pronounce it this way WA-AA-LAY-KOOM EL-SA-LAM. In an informal situation, you can greet someone by saying ‘Marhaba’(مرحبا). This is appropriate for friends at school, family relatives or colleagues at work. You can pronounce it this way, MAR-HAH-BAA.  You can also greet someone by saying ‘Ahlan wa sahlan,’(أهلآ وسهلآ) which literally means welcome.  You can pronounce it this way: AH-LAN WA- SAH-LAN.

What’s Your Name? My Name is…

To ask someone what’s your name, you need to say two words: the what (ma) and name (ism). If you are talking to a woman, you would need to say ‘ma ismuki?’ (ما اسمكِ) and to a man, you would say ‘ma ismuka’ (ما اسمكَ). You can pronounce it this way: MA-ISS-MUKEE (when addressing women) and MA-ISS-MUKA (when addressing men). How about responding to someone after they have told you their name? To say ‘my name is..’ you will need  to say ‘ismi’ (إسمي)and then your name. You can pronounce it this way: ISS-ME. So for example: ismi John or ismi Lauren or ismi Mohammad or ismi Tony or ismi Fatima or ismi Catherine or ismi Sarah.

Hope you make use of these basics and try to practice with your Arab friends or in a class or at work with colleagues that share your passion for learning Arabic. These might also come in handy if you happen to plan a visit to any of the beautiful destinations in the Arab world.

Stay tuned for upcoming posts.

Have a nice day!

نهاركم سعيد

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About the Author: jesa

Salam everyone! Born as an American to two originally Arab parents, I have been raised and have spent most of my life in Beirut, Lebanon. I have lived my good times and my bad times in Beirut. I was but a young child when I had to learn to share my toys and food with others as we hid from bombs and fighting during the Lebanese Civil War. I feel my connection to Arabic as both a language and culture is severing and so it is with you, my readers and fellow Arabic lovers, and through you that I wish to reestablish this connection by creating one for you.


  1. how well do you believe hipaa:

    Nice post. I was checking constantly this blog and I am impressed! Very useful information specifically the ultimate part 🙂 I care for such information much. I was seeking this certain info for a long time. Thank you and best of luck.

    • Daniel:

      @how well do you believe hipaa In French colonial African countries . morocco , Western Sahara, Mauritania , Senagal , i found i mixed dialect of french and Arabic used as an actual language og Moroccan, when speaki g pure arabic my response aways to Salaam Ûleikum, was “Ûleikum Wu Salaam” with the WU replacing the “el” you refered to , i had never heard an “El Salam”? Not disagreeing but was simply interested geographically where that would be said ,
      It would help every person in this country understand Islam if they spent at least two weeks and felt the love and beauty these people of Morocco had for others visiting. , they have no problems with ANY religion so long as it spoke of love and how to treat fellow man , as a white boy from Laguna Beach , Ca. I was so impresses by the sense of “taking care of a guest or traveler” that was offered to me by complete strangers , i would find myself at a hime withe ENTIRE family cooking Kefta , Herrera, and drinking Tea with the most gracious proud Moroccans as well as those among the ancientbBerber tribe , im sure americans could learn alot in ot of far corners of the earth , but i am so proud to have eaten with my muslim friends that never would think of judging me for my faith, but only wanted to show me how family and friends all love each other and take care of one another, cause in a community , thats what you do , you share the love , ill never forget them and hope they never forget that white boy that slept on the Sahara sand outside that night to wake up to roosters coca doodle dooing , almost as if saying Salaaaaaam Ûleikum Danielle!!!!, lol, we can all learn from each other to make this “WORLD BETTER AGAIN ” (sound familiar) by simply seeing how people out there share life love happiness and what it means to have a guest ,,,,, amazing people!!!! I am so lucky to have spent a night in many muslim homes abroad proving to me that we have alot to learn about faiths in our country and our horse isnt as high as we thought ,
      Keeping an open mind will make one muuuch wiser if he carries it in a humble way
      Chokran !!!
      Daniel Moody

  2. Adrian Max:

    Hi! I am an American and I am living in UAE. So Arabic is a little hard but it’s fun to learn. So these website helped me in conversating with the people around me.

  3. Mihad:

    Introducing myself arabic in a class

  4. Oscar:

    This is really helping me out!! Thanks for making this!!!!!

  5. Megha:

    One of 2017 goals is to learn Arab.. at times, when we set goals, there are instances when we don’t fully understand why we are being compelled to do that… So same with me and then out of nowhere I just land on this page.. I heard myself screaming “Ok Life, I got it – this is the way – we are off to learn Arabic”… I love this piece from you and I look forward to learning about this language and all that is connected to the language